ISLAMABAD: The opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Saturday urged the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government to present details of its talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before parliament, prior to taking any final decision.
Talking to Dawn on Saturday, PPP central Punjab president Raja Pervez Ashraf asked the government to apprise the nation about conditions being imposed by the IMF for providing loans to the government.
Mr Ashraf also sought an explanation from the government over reports that more taxes were being imposed on the nation as a result of the talks with the IMF.
The PPP leader recalled that when the PPP was in the government, it had also negotiated with the IMF. He was of opinion that the main focus of the government during the talks with the world donors should be the betterment and relief for the common people.
Wonders why Pakistan is still on FATF grey list
Mr Ashraf regretted that the government had already increased prices of oil and electricity many times after presentation of the federal budget in June. He said that according to the government, they had fulfilled all conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to bring the country out of its grey list. However, he said, despite all these claims, Pakistan was still on the FATF grey list which shows that “there is a fault somewhere.”
The PPP leader criticised the government for its failure to take timely decisions. He said previously Prime Minister Imran Khan had declared that his government would not approach the IMF for loans, but later the government not only held talks with the Fund, but also accepted all its harsh conditions making the lives of the people difficult.
In a separate statement, PPP MNA Dr Nafisa Shah said there were reports that the IMF had “dictated” to the government to increase sales tax and regulatory duties. Moreover, she said, there were reports that the IMF had asked the government “to set the annual tax target at Rs63 trillion”.
The statements from the PPP leaders came on the day the government concluded its technical-level virtual discussions with the IMF with a “positive note” and agreed to continue talks at a higher level in Washington from next week to put $6bn Extended Fund Facility (EFF) back on track. The policy level talks between Pakistan and the IMF officials is scheduled to start in the US early next week.
The Pakistani team will be headed by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin.
During the two-day talks, the IMF had reportedly termed Pakistan’s revenue growth ‘unsustainable’, stating that it could reverse as soon as policies to control imports take hold. Also, the power sector circular debt management plan was found to be ‘un-bankable’ without sufficient tariff increases. The IMF staff wanted major steps on both fronts.
These are the two critical issues where ‘give and take’ has to take place keeping in mind the economic conditions in the wake of uncertain Covid-19 situation and international commodity prices.
“The details of the talks with the IMF which have so far come to the light are disturbing,” Dr Shah said, regretting that the parliament as well as the country’s political parties were unaware of final conditions attached to the talks with the IMF.
Meanwhile, PPP information secretary Shazia Marri has said the “incompetent government” of Imran Khan is even depriving the people of their desire to live a prosperous life.
In a statement, Ms Marri particularly assailed the government for its recent decision to raise electricity tariff.
She questioned the government that whose treasures were being filled by making electricity expensive in the country.
Ms Marri said Mr Khan used to deliver lectures on civil disobedience when prices of electricity were increasing during the previous governments. Nowadays, she said, the prices of electricity in the country were the highest and at the same time, people were worried about loadshedding.
Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2021